Maternal deaths fall worldwide

The number of maternal deaths around the world has dropped by just over a third.

According to a new report by the World Health Organization (WHO), Unicef, the United Nations Population Fund and the World Bank, the number of women dying during childbirth, or from pregnancy-related complications, has decreased by 34 per cent over an 18-year period.

In 1990, an estimated 546,000 women died compared to 358,000 in 2008, the report, entitled Trends in Maternal Mortality, revealed.

However, despite progress being notable, the annual rate of decline is less than half of what is needed for the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) to be achieved.

There needs to be a reduction of 75 per cent in the maternal mortality ratio between 1990 and 2015 in order to meet the MDG.

"The global reduction in maternal death rates is encouraging news," said Dr Margaret Chan, the director-general of WHO.

"No woman should die due to inadequate access to family planning and to pregnancy and delivery care."

Recently, a report in the Guardian suggested Brazil is on track to meet the MDG on infant mortality, having reduced the number of child deaths by 50 per cent between 1990 and 2006.